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Climate change: MPs announce citizens' assembly

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Six parliamentary committees have announced plans for a citizens' assembly to discuss how the UK should tackle climate change.

It comes after the government committed earlier this month to cut greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero by 2050.

The assembly is likely to be set up in the autumn and will meet over several weekends before producing a report.

Energy Secretary Greg Clark welcomed the move, saying public engagement was "vitally important".

The UK is the first major nation to propose the 2050 emissions target - and it has been widely praised by green groups.

But some say the phase-out is too late to protect the climate, whilst others fear that the task is impossible.

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Labour MP Rachel Reeves, who chairs the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee, said achieving the target would require "buy-in from the public".

"This isn't a challenge for just one Parliament, one political party, or one generation; to achieve net-zero by 2050 we need to build cross-party and cross-generational support," she said.

The BEIS Committee will be joined by the Environmental Audit, Housing, Communities and Local Government, Science and Technology, Transport, and Treasury committees in hosting the assembly.

Holding a citizens' assembly to discuss climate policy has been a demand from climate group Extinction Rebellion, which held protests causing widespread disruption earlier this year.

The commitment to meeting the "net zero" came after the government's advisory Committee on Climate Change recommended the target in May.

Meeting the target will mean emissions from homes, transport, farming and industry will have to be avoided completely or - in the most difficult examples - offset by planting trees or sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere.

Mr Clark said ending the UK's contribution to climate change will be the "defining decision of our generation" and will require "the effort of a generation to deliver it".

"Initiatives to engage the public will be vitally important to appreciating the challenges of getting to net zero and giving people a say in shaping the future policies to achieve the target," he added.

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